Utilization of Echocardiogram, Carotid Ultrasound, and Cranial Imaging in the Inpatient Investigation of Syncope: Its Impact on the Diagnosis and the Patient’s Length of Hospitalization

Glenmore Lasam, Jaimin Dudhia, Sharen Anghel, Jeffrey Brensilver


Background: Although guidelines suggest that the best strategy for evaluating syncope is clinical history and physical examination, the inappropriate utilization of diagnostic imaging is common.

Methods: A single center retrospective analysis conducted in adult patients admitted for evaluation and management of syncope for a period of 12 months. Charts were reviewed to abstract demographic data, admitting and discharge diagnosis, diagnostic investigatory tests including imaging modalities (echocardiogram, carotid ultrasound, and cranial computed tomography (CT)) ordered, subspecialty consultation requested, treatment rendered and hospital length of stay (LOS).

Results: A total of 109 patients were admitted for syncope, mean age was 68.74 ± 21.04 years and 39.44% were men. Echocardiogram, carotid ultrasound, and cranial CT were ordered in 69.72%, 33.02%, and 76.14% respectively. The mean hospital LOS was 2.6 days. Patients with no imaging test, one imaging test, two imaging tests, and three imaging tests ordered have an average hospital LOS of 2.22 days, 2.44 days, 2.58 days, and 3.07 days respectively. The number of imaging test and its relation to the admitting (Chi-square (chi-sq) P = 0.4165, nominal logistic regression (LR) P = 0.939) and discharge (chi-sq P = 0.1507, nominal LR P = 0.782) diagnosis as well as the LOS in relation to the number of imaging test ordered (analysis of variance (ANOVA) P = 0.368, Kruskal Wallis (KW) P = 0.352) were not statistically significant although there was a trend of prolonged hospital LOS the more imaging diagnostic test had been ordered. Syncope was the admitting and discharge diagnosis in 89.9% and 91.74% respectively.

Conclusions: Choosing the appropriate diagnostic tests as dictated by the patient’s clinical manifestation and utilizing less expensive test would be appropriate and cost-effective approach in appraising patients with syncope.

Cardiol Res. 2018;9(4):197-203
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/cr751w


Syncope; Imaging; Length of hospitalization

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